British Prime Minister Theresa May will today trigger Article 50 that will kick-start the Brexit process for Britain to formally leave the European Union (EU) in two years’ time. A letter signed by the Prime Minister will be hand-delivered to President of the European Council Donald Tusk at about 12.30pm – as she rises in Westminster to deliver a statement to MPs signalling the end of the United Kingdom’s most significant diplomatic association since the end of the second world war, reports the Guardian.
May will aim to strike a note of reconciliation when she addresses the Commons, claiming this is the time for Brexiters and remainers to “come together” after holding an early morning meeting of her cabinet. Meanwhile, the Labour said it respected the decision of the British public but vowed to hold the government to account. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “Britain is going to change as a result. The question is how … It will be a national failure of historic proportions if the prime minister comes back from Brussels without having secured protection for jobs and living standards.”
Earlier, May called German chancellor Angel Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker, on Tuesday evening to update them ahead of sending the letter. The Guardian quoted a Downing Street spokesperson as saying, “In separate calls, they agreed that a strong EU was in everyone’s interests and that the UK would remain a close and committed ally. They also agreed on the importance of entering into negotiations in a constructive and positive spirit, and of ensuring a smooth and orderly exit process.” It marks the start of a two-year period in which British and EU27 negotiators will have to come to agreement over questions of citizens’ rights, an exit bill, immigration and a future trading relationship. The first issue to be placed on the negotiating table is likely to be the status of EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals living on the continent. Other early negotiations will be about the divorce bill itself, with the UK likely to pay anything between nothing and €60bn (£52bn). Only when that is resolved, say the remaining EU countries, will they be prepared to embark on the future trading relationship.